We carry all kinds of things to work: briefcases, packed lunches, spare business cards, photos of family, and a host of memories. Some of us are able to compartmentalise our lives to such an extent that personal histories are left on the train, tube, bus, or in the glove compartment of the car. But for most of us the lines are more blurred.
One common piece of emotional baggage that seems to accompany many into their work is the unresolved ambiguity of their relationship with their father. It shows itself in the break-down of communication between boss and employee as the disappointed employee attempts to replace the deficit left by their father with the input from their boss. It is doomed to failure. Anger towards a father can erupt unexpectedly when a boss reminds the employee of parental shortcomings.
It may of course be much less complicated. We all seem to carry within us a desire to be fathered. We have a wide range of interpretations in our minds of what we are seeking, but security, loyalty, and care are on our shared agendas. We look for fathers in our leaders, our pension schemes, and our trades unions. We seek them out in our CEOs, our managers, and our HR departments, but we never quite find them.
Freud, of course, would have a field day with this argument, but, with all due respect to him, we continue our search. The problem is that even if we think we have found what we are looking for we usually end up disappointed. The thirst is never quite quenched and the security never quite permanent enough.
So we work harder, burying ourselves in business or close emotional doors in order to block out this somewhat embarrassing feeling of being global orphans.If you go anywhere near a carol service this Christmas you will hear Jesus of Nazareth being named “Everlasting Father” – now we’re onto something here. Someone has arrived who can offer us care, security, acceptance, and affirmation on a permanent basis. Here’s what you have been looking for all your life. Here’s the end of ambition and proving yourself. Here’s someone who sees all the faults and still cheers for your success.
If you’ve had a great father you will feel less of an orphan, but you will also have a taste for what this is about. This is about an end to the search. This is about Christmas.
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